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There are material things, habits, luxuries, and even terrible things that eventually become a part of the scenery of life.
We may never have intended them to become so ordinary or regular but they do.
Like flushing toilet paper.
Okay, without context that seems strange but if you’ve ever traveled to older parts of the world, you know what I mean. Many place, like Athens, are old and the plumbing just ain’t what we got in the States. Bathrooms have tiny trash cans just for your toilet paper. It’s a little odd if you’re not accustomed to it.
Even though it’s not as bad as it sounds, I sure loved coming back to bathrooms with flush-ability.
Toilet paper may be a slightly comical example but there are many more serious ones. Like bad habits, a “regular” routine, a favorite picture, or a favorite person.
For me it was a feeling.
I don’t know when I picked up the bad habit of only half believing in myself but it had become so much a part of me that I couldn’t even see it.
There was enough self-confidence to try something new but not enough to really push myself. There wasn’t enough to dare. There wasn’t enough to be confident in just me.
I wanted to “fit in” and fly under the radar. But only a bit.
I wanted someone to see me, to recognize something in me, and to call me to a place where I could shine and truly be myself.
But even with that feeling, I knew I wouldn’t believe it even if someone did all that.
Before you get the wrong idea, I had people tell me I was good enough, talented enough, and able enough. I just didn’t believe them. I always had an excuse for their “exaggeration” — because that’s what I thought it was. My warped thinking reasoned that because I didn’t believe in myself there’s no reason why they should.
However, I’ve come to realize that they were/are right and I was wrong.
Does the mean that I’ve got my life all sorted and that I’m totally, completely awesome? Nope. It does me that I am uniquely me and that I am capable of doing more than I am currently doing.
So what changed? I did.
Okay, I kinda hate that answer because it makes it sound like a person can just wake up one day and be something else.
What we should really ask is how.
How did change happen?
1. I got away from routine
Everyone’s routine looks different so not everyone can spend two month abroad.
Whatever your routine, change it up. Not necessarily forever but just for a while.
If you find yourself taking someone for granted (or you feel taken for granted) treat the other person differently. Spread some love in a new love language!
If you find yourself growing dull spiritually, ditch the average set up and try adding things, subtracting things, and doing something fresh.
2. I repeated the positive.
For years, I kept reciting to myself the flaws, shortcomings, and reasons why I wasn’t ready to really push myself. That was really silly in the not-funny but really-frustrating kinda way.
Those voices that tell us we suck have worn a fine trail through our thinking. That trail doesn’t just disappear.
I made a choice to repeat the good. Over and over and over and over…
Sometimes this was just to myself and sometimes it was to Jay, who already believed in me.
Every time those negative thoughts arose, I combated them with truth. Most often it was Truth from Scripture but sometimes it was simply what I knew or was told to be true.
3. I cut the Comparison
Oh my gosh! So many people seem to be doing life better than me!
In pictures that is (and maybe in real life too).
But they don’t have my life and my life has its amazingly awesome features too.
This was a very forced thing at first but I quit looking at someone else’s life as goals.
I told myself that I didn’t want someone else’s pretty house or pretty life or pretty artwork to be mine. (Wait, isn’t that coveted-ness? Yep, it is!)
Once I saw it for what it was — sin — I began to examine all the good things in my own life.
At first, this was difficult. I continued to see how my life, home, and art didn’t measure up. This changed gradually. Slowly but continually. Until I was comfortable in admitting the good things that are found in my life. These may not be things that can be photographed or even really put into words — but they’re still pretty darn amazing.
But it’s possible.
And, let me tell you, the reward is wonderful!
I’ve returned a more confident person. I’m ready to take on different challenges and face new obstacles.
Is every day easy. No.
But the good days outweigh the bad.
I’m seeing things differently after my self-doubt detox. I can view people’s pictures with admiration and not jealously. I can settle into my own art practice, not caring who likes it or if it will sell. I’m not beating myself up about the chores that didn’t get done, the tasks that didn’t get checked out, and I’m enjoying my time in a much healthier way.
And that’s how Stephanie got her groove back. 🙂